Our First Commander

Lewis M. Allen (1896)

On September 23, 1919, a temporary charter was issued for an American Legion Post in Berryville and the charter members began the process of recruiting members and organizing the new Post.  The initial organizational meeting was held on October 30, 1919 and Dr. Lewis M. Allen was elected the Commander.  Dr. Allen had served in the Army Medical Corps during the war and as a major was the highest ranking local veteran.

Dr. Allen was born in 1874 in Jefferson County, West Virginia, just across the state line from Berryville.  He was the son of Captain Robert Owen Allen, a noted Confederate cavalry officer during the Civil War.  While he was a young child, his family purchased Clifton Farm in Clarke County where he spent his childhood.  He later inherited the farm from his father and spent the rest of his life there.

He graduated from the University of Virginia and completed his medical degree in 1893 from the University of Maryland.  He did graduate work in obstetrics at the University of Heidelberg in Germany and the University of Vienna in Austria.  He taught obstetrics at the University of Maryland and also maintained a medical practice in Baltimore.

In June, 1896, he was summoned to Blue Ridge Summit Resort in Pennsylvania for an emergency delivery.  The baby that he delivered that day was Wallis Simpson who was destined to become the Duchess of Windsor for whose love King Edward of England abdicated his throne.

When America entered World War I, Dr. Allen was commissioned as a captain the Army Medical Corps and served two years in stateside Army hospitals.  He was discharged after the war with the rank of major.

After the war, he opened an obstetrics practice in Winchester, Virginia, where he attended the delivery of thousands of babies over the next three decades.  He also served as the City Health Officer for Winchester, a member of the medical staff of Winchester Hospital, and a member of various regional medical groups.

Outside of his medical practice, his chief interests were his love of thoroughbred horse and his Clifton Farm.  He bred many outstanding hunters and steeplechasers that he showed and raced.  He was also an active supporter of the annual Apple Blossom Festival and served as the chief parade marshal for several years.

Dr. Allen died in 1949 and was buried in Old Chapel Cemetery in Clarke County.

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